Thursday, 30 September 2010


Saying farewell to my dear family, I was on the ``alone`` road again.
My time in Ecuador went by very fast, and so this post would probably sound as a run-through, even though each day was a regular one (just a bit closer to the equator).
Guayaquil to Quito:
Buying a bus ticket in Ecuador is quite funny, all fair prices are set by the hour of the ride.
The bus ride from Guayaquil to Quito is said to be an 8 hour ride - and so, one would pay 8$US for it. Before doing so, I checked the bus, and was happy to find out that it has a toilet - good news! After 4 hours on the bus, I really needed to pee. Trying to accomplish my goal, I found out the toilet was locked (electronically! in Ecuador!), and so went to ask the driver`s assistant if I could, please, use the toilet. No (he replies). The toilet is just for the ladies. Next absurd request was that he would stop the bus so I could quickly empty my waters. Lucky you (he says), we`re just about to stop! Andean style, we stopped only an hour later, and still I had to beg in order for the bus to wait for me those 2 minutes. FYI, the bus ride itself was 11 hours, and not 8.
In one word ``scary``. In another ``horrifying``. I got to the capital at night and took a cab to a hostel I checked out on the web. The owner warned me non-stop, to not walk around alone after sunset. The streets of Quito, magically, empty totally from 18:00. Doors shut, windows close, and guns are fired. To complete the picture, I met a girl in my hostel that was robbed in broad daylight, in a main plaza, threatened by a knife! I chose to walk my day tour in Quito in mid-day, and with nothing on me - there for, no pictures - sorry. I also decided to run away from Quito as fast as I can.
Just 2 hours (once you manage reaching the northern bus terminal of Quito) away from the Ecuadorian capital, lies Otavalo market. On an everyday basis, there`s a regular South-American touristic market in the main plaza. But on Saturday, all the streets around the same plaza become a market. Touristic & local together. Chickens and pigs are being sold, fruits and vegetables, weird local dishes and more! Do I have to explain what the touristic side looks like?
Volcan Pichincha:
Back in Quito (sadly), I met a German guy named Dennis in my hostel. We both heard together about climbing volcano Pichincha, and how close and easy it is. So we joined forces and went together the next day. Dennis & I had really good fun (no thanks to the clouds who just did not move from the pick, there for - we were climbing in the middle of the clouds), and connected really good. Dennis then agreed to follow me to my next stop - the Quilotoa Loop.
Quilotoa Loop:
Knowing we both haven`t got the time to walk all the way around (like one should!), we shortened our way and took a bus strait to the village of Quilotoa. The famous lake is located inside a crater, an awesome view (from top or from inside).
We saw the crater the day we arrived to the village, and were attempting to walk our way to the village of Chugchilan the following day. We asked for directions from a couple arriving to the village that same day from Chugchilan.
After walking all day on the dirt-road between the villages, we understood that we got pretty bad directions (there`s a walking trail somewhere...). The views were still spectacular, and we got to meet some very good ``finger`` photographers on the way.
Arriving early to Chugchilan, we just didn`t have the power to leave the hostel (once finding one...), and we just read our books until dinner. In our hostel, we met two Quito friends of Dennis, a Dutch couple (in their late 40`s?), They were both really good story tellers, and had lots of around the world adventures to tell about.
The next morning, we took a ride on the milk truck (the only morning ``public-transportation``). This was a unique experience for all tourists (an Irish & 2 Australians were also on the truck) riding it! The milk-men would pick-up buckets of fresh milk from locals waiting on the road, and give them back milk for their usage (apparently processed). The milk truck took us to a bigger and less remote village, where we could wait for a bus to the big town of Latacunga.
The touristic town of Baños is the smallest noisy town you could find. It is a vacation town for Ecuadorians, who happened to have a holiday just on the same weekend we were there.
The bible said the bike ride is nice, and so we rented bikes and rode down hill towards Puyo.
Dennis doesn`t really know how to ride a bike - and so he almost got himself killed.
Turns out - it`s a waterfall route! Every 500 meters or so, there was a cable-car, crossing to the other side of the river, and closer to the waterfalls.
Locals were going crazy! Back and forth on the cables!
We decided to check what all the fuss was about, and crossed to see a very high and impressive waterfall from up close. When trying to reach the pool underneath it, we were asked to pay another 50 cents. We refused. Instead, we found a trail leading up above the waterfall. It was a nice short walk, but then we were asked to pay another 50 cents to see the top of the waterfall from up close - guess what?
The way back from the top of the waterfall was free, and we just walked on the road back to our bikes.

The second entrance we payed for, was the highlight of the waterfalls! Pailon del Diablo is an amazing contrast between the black rock and the white water rushing though it. The face of the devil shows in the rocks - giving the place it`s name.
Our second day in Baños was passed by a short walk to ``Bellavista`` (the beautiful-view), it wasn`t.
From Baños, I continued alone. Dennis drove back to Quito to pick up Niels (his German friend) from the airport.
Never believe French people - that`s what I always say. Well, this time they were speaking the truth. The train from Riobamba was closed.
Parque Nacional Cajas:
Heard about it by mistake, from Eshel (my friend in Israel). The best way to describe this wonderful park would be ``a high Patagonia``. Covered with green marshes, interesting hidden lakes appear behind each hill. small creatures & flowers are spread, shy to the strange person walking around looking for them. Last ans most important - I haven`t met a human being ever since stepping into the park in the morning and until leaving it, early afternoon.
Vilcabamba (The Sacred Valley):
Located in the perfect location on earth, the villagers of this quiet town are proud of living in the only place in earth were climate doesn`t change all year round! I got here late at night (with mud from Cajas still on my shoes), and took a day off just to relax in this wondrous place. Somehow, it was still vacation time in Ecuador - and locals were everywhere! Unlike Baños, in Vilcabamba you don`t feel the load of people`s presents.
The next day I went up Cerro Mandango (the sleeping god) with Cora from Ireland, I met on the bus from Loja to Vilcabamba. The mountain actually cliffs of ``conglomerate`` and from it we could see the whole valley beneath us. On the way down we tried finding our way through the dangerous ridges - adventure!
On my last day in Vilcabamba I took a horse ride into National Park Podocarpus. I fell in love with my energetic horse ``Media-Noche`` (mid-night), who liked nothing but running!
Goodbye Ecuador, hello Peru.

Tips for Ecuador:
- Quito - If you, like me, don`t like big cities. You wouldn`t like Quito. Just try and stay away from it.
- PN Cajas - One of my favorite places in Ecuador. Don`t miss its wonders. If you`re going, arrive before it opens (07:30), and you`ll save the 10$US entrance fee.
- Vilcabamba - Renè from La Tasca Tours is a very nice & informative person who would love to help. He also owns the best horses in town.

No comments:

Post a Comment